Manatees on the move
Still wondering whether spring has arrived? Wonder no longer. Large numbers of manatees are leaving their warm-water winter refuge near the Tampa Electric Co. discharge canal into the shallow-water feeding areas to the north off Gibsonton and south near Apollo Beach.
Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say that as many as 300 of the slow-swimming sea mammals might be on the move. State officials are urging boaters to slow down in these areas and obey posted speed limits.
Tampa Bay's manatees have had a rough winter. These animals tend to concentrate in high numbers at this time of year, which makes them more vulnerable to boat strikes.
State law enforcement officers have increased patrols in these critical feeding areas and are strictly enforcing speed limits in manatee protection zones.
Boaters can help by wearing polarized sunglasses, which make it easier to spot manatees. Another way to spot a feeding manatee is to watch for the circular slicks on the surface of the water.
To learn more about Florida's manatees, visit myfwc.com/manatee. To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC's wildlife alert hotline at 1-888-404-3922.
Release those off-limits snook
A reminder that the harvest season for snook in the Gulf of Mexico, Everglades National Park and Monroe County waters, which usually begins March 1, is not open this year. The FWC issued an executive order Jan. 15 that temporarily extends closed harvest seasons for snook statewide until Sept. 1 to protect those populations affected by recent prolonged cold weather in Florida. It is legal to catch and release snook.
• Golden Triangle Fishing Club seminar for those ages 8-15 at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bill Currie Ford (5815 N Dale Mabry) in Tampa. Cost: $5, which covers instruction. … A junior anglers group fishing event from 9 a.m. to noon March 27 at the Ballast Point Pier, with instruction from fishing club members. Information: Call (813) 263-6435 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Introduction to navigation with map and compass seminar from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 27 at Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park. Cost: $35 per person. Information: (727) 576-4169.
Terry Tomalin and Rodney Page, Times staff writers